Well, it wouldn’t be a Philadelphia Eagles offseason if we didn’t ask certain questions now would it? Who’s the backup quarterback going to be? What are the Birds going to do at that other cornerback position? It would also be nice if Philly could stabilize the safety position and add depth at tailback. Heck, Philadelphia may need to find a starting running back. Stop us if any of this sounds familiar.
In terms of who that ‘other’ cover guy should be, it’s probably wise to assume that James Bradberry is moving on. He and Darius Slay formed a nice tandem last season, but the former has earned himself a payday.
As of right now, the Birds have seven cornerbacks on the roster:
They also have a defensive back, Tristin McCollum, signed to a reserve/future deal. With all of that in mind, we could see the Birds add a corner in the coming NFL Draft or a month earlier during the free agency frenzy. Let’s talk about the latter option for a second.
Here are the top ten free-agent options the Eagles will have at the cornerback position (and a few honorable mentions).
Recently, Howie Roseman has added defensive backs later during the offseason. Think about Ronald Darby (2017), Steven Nelson (2021), James Bradberry, and C.J. Gardner-Johnson (2022).
C.J. transitioned to the safety position this past season, but he and Bradberry are both in need of extensions. Might this be the year that he adds a cornerback early?
Here are the top ten free agents at the position.
1. Jamel Dean, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could have used Jamel Dean during that playoff loss to the Dallas Cowboys. This young man has a bright future ahead though as he’s widely regarded as the best cover man in this free agent class.
2. Byron Murphy, Arizona Cardinals
Byron Murphy missed eight games last season but had proven to be durable before that. He’s one of the younger corners on this list as he just turned 25 this past January, so hopefully, he has a long career ahead.
3. James Bradberry, Philadelphia Eagles
We don’t have to convince Eagles fans of how good Braderry is. If Philly doesn’t hang on to him, there’s a possibility that the names that follow could wind up being less-expensive options.
4. Marcus Peters, Baltimore Ravens
Marcus Peters has proven to be one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks. He’s also 30 years of age. That’s typically when we begin treating players like they’re wearing the scarlet letter, but Peters probably has a couple of good years left in the tank.
5. Jonathan Jones, New England Patriots
Jonathan Jones can play the outside cornerback position and in the slot. Every NFL team loves versatility, and the two-time Super Bowl champion has that in abundance.
6. Cameron Sutton, Pittsburgh Steelers
Cameron Sutton is coming off of a great season.
7. Rock Ya-Sin, Las Vegas Raiders
Rock Ya-Sin was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders during the 2022 offseason in exchange for Yannick Ngakoue. Ya-Sin was an immediate hit in Patrick Graham’s man-heavy scheme, but that wouldn’t do Philly any good if they sign him and don’t allow him to play to his strengths.
7. Keisean Nixon, Green Bay Packers
In all honesty, Keisean Nixon has had some up-and-down moments as a cover guy, but he’s also a very good kick returner. That will make him more attractive to teams that need someone to fill both roles.
9. Patrick Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
Patrick Peterson must have found the fountain of youth. His 12th NFL season was one of his finest. The Minnesota Vikings’ defense left much to be desired, but you can’t blame any of that on Peterson.
10. Sean Murphy-Bunting, Buccaneers
Sean Murphy-Bunting is, without question, a top-tier talent when healthy. The problem is he hasn’t been healthy. He’s also more of a slot corner, and the Eagles need someone to play on the outside.
Just outside the top ten: Duke Shelley (Vikings)
Duke Shelley is young, and he played well for the Minnesota Vikings last season. Unfortunately, he’s also undersized.
He reminds us of Avonte Maddox. Both are slot guys. They’re about the same height, and with their playing styles, we have to ask how they’re going to stay healthy.
Honorable mention: Jason Verrett (San Francisco 49ers), Emmanuel Moseley (49ers), Bryce Callahan (L.A. Chargers)
Jason Verrett and Bryce Callahan can’t seem to stay healthy. Emmanuel Moseley tore his ACL in October, and Bradley Roby is inconsistent at best.
Still, if we had to make comparisons, we’d still rank them ahead of guys like Troy Hill (L.A. Rams), Eli Apple (Cincinnati Bengals), Fabian Moreau (New York Giants), and Rashad Fenton (Atlanta Falcons).